Patrick Hoyos: In tourism, Barbados is left at the starting gate for first half of 2014

Beach chairs empty

Patrick Hoyos

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Saturday August 30, 2014 – New tourism long stay arrivals numbers from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation show big percentage gains for the Dominican Republic, Cuba, St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Maarten for the first six months of 2014.

Barbados recorded a flat arrivals performance for the period, with 264,000 arrivals erasing the losses of the previous year but not providing any increase. It was a different story for some of our neighbors, with St. Lucia enjoying a 6% increase to reach 176,000 arrivals, Grenada an 18.6% rise to just over 65,000 arrivals, and St. Maarten up by close to 9% with 245,000 arrivals.

Barbados, which started the year well with a 3.8% increase in long stay arrivals in January, fell back in February with a decline of 1.5% and in March of 5.6%.

St. Vincent & the Grenadines saw a drop in long stay arrivals by almost one percent, reporting a figure of just over 30,000 for arrivals between January and May.

In the northern Caribbean, Jamaica saw its arrivals increase by 1.4% to nearly 1.1 million, while Cuba also had an increase, of almost 4 percent, translating into close to 1.7 million long stay arrivals. The Cayman Islands also enjoyed a surge of arrivals, growing by over 9% to 210,500.

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Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic saw its long stay arrivals increase by 8.5% to reach almost 2.7 million for the six-month period.

Also noteworthy were the rises in arrivals recorded by Antigua & Barbuda, up nearly 7% to just over 138,000; and Aruba, up just over 5% to almost 490,000, as well as Belize, up nearly 12% to 186,000.

Barbados, which started the year well with a 3.8% increase in long stay arrivals in January, fell back in February with a decline of 1.5% and in March of 5.6%. It then enjoyed an increase in April of just over two percent and in May and June of just over one percent. The result was an arrivals figure for the first six months that was the same as for the same period last year.

One of the country’s biggest worries seems to be the decline in long stay arrivals from North America, as the United States’ arrivals figure fell by 7.2%, and Canada’s by 8.2 percent for the period. An increase of close to 10% from Europe was not enough to compensate for these major market downturns.

The only other country close to Barbados in terms of the percentage lost in long stay arrivals from the US was St. Kitts & Nevis, with a 6.2% drop. Jamaica experienced a drop of just under one percent, while St. Lucia was up 13.2% and Grenada by 20% in terms of long stay arrivals from the US.

All other Caribbean destinations saw an increase in arrivals from Canada except for Aruba, Antigua & Barbuda, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines, all three of which saw Canadian visitor arrivals for the period fall by around 5%. St. Lucia saw its Canadian numbers increase by over 9% and Jamaica saw its figure go up by 4%.

Pat-Hoyos-150The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Pat Hoyos. This article first appeared in the Broad Street Journal. Pat Hoyos is a business writer and publisher of the Broad Street Journal.

 

  • Tim

    Probably because Barbados has some of the most rude residents in all of the Caribbean. Though never for a longer stay, we have been off a ship twice in the last 4 years for a port day. We have found that the majority of the people on the island are not appreciative of the US Dollar, even though tourism is there biggest industry.

    We do not plan to get off the ship when we visit again in December. The other tourists can deal with the frustration.

    • Anisha Hurley

      Maybe you encountered one or two rude people, which I’m sure I would encounter if I visited your country. While I’m saddened about your experience, I’m also saddened at the fact that you would want to make others believe that Barbadians are a set of rude people. I truly hope that you will come again and try to experience more of the island and get a better understanding of the lovely,warm and friendly people we have here.

      Furthermore, let it be known that while Barbados’ tourism numbers may have declined in comparison to its neighbours, the revenue earned has been considerably higher. So while the numbers may not be there, the dollars certainly are and this was purposely done by the tourism authority of Barbados. It makes little sense having vast numbers who are not spending when you can have less spending a lot.

      • Tim

        Getting off the ship, we decided to walk to town, which is not an unreasonable thing. As we were required to walk through a large group of taxi drivers, we POLITELY declined a ride, saying “no thank you”. We were greeted to your island by several “go F**K yourself then” by several of the drivers because we declined their services with a smile.

        The town was nice. It was well kept and par for Caribbean islands.

        As we made our way back to the ship, we decided to visit the shops that are just outside the gate of the port, not those in the port, just outside. I wanted to buy a smoothie drink. All the prices on the wall were in EC, which is no big deal and is normal. I, however, did not change my USD into EC, because…. well, everyone accepts it. I asked POLITELY to make sure they take USD. The store keeper laughed at me and told me, “you are not in the U.S., you are in the f**king Caribbean, get the hell out of my store.”

        Still determined to not let those two experiences ruin our day, we went into another shop so my wife could by a souvenir. The store owner was on the phone as we entered. We smiled at her as she spoke on the phone. I sat in a chair just inside the door. It was a chair that was for shoppers, it was not on sale. 5 minutes later, as my wife is deciding between a few items, the storekeeper ends her phone call and asks me directly: “why didn’t you say hi to me when you came in?” I responded: “I smiled to you, you were on the phone.” She then proceeded to scream at us until we left her store.

        We have spent over 100 port days in the Caribbean. 2 in Barbados. Our first trip there was a paid excursion. The second we tried to experience the culture. We were very disappointed by the culture we experienced.

        If stores 100 meters from the ship will not take USD, and expect customers to interrupt their phone call to say “HELLO” (which by the way is the store’s responsibility, not the customer) they will not be in business to long.

        We realize that not every Barbados resident is rude. That is obvious. But, we encountered enough of a pattern of people that we are content not to visit the island anytime soon.

        We are not upset anymore. We were very upset at the time. Sorry for the long reply, I felt I should explain our experience.

        • Anisha Hurley

          Tim, I’m truly sorry as a Barbadian, that you had that experience which can only be described as complete insanity on the part of those you encountered. However, i implore you to return. Hundreds of thousands of tourists come to our shores annually and they have a lovely time here, just look up a few places in Barbados on Trip Advisor and you will see what I mean.

          It is hard to believe that we have persons in our country who would behave like that but let me take the time to give you my most sincere apologies.

          I have just completed my degree at University in Tourism Management and I know the importance of tourism to our country. And because I am passionate about the industry, comments or reviews of our island, such as this one, greatly anger me. However, I will still stand up for my country and again ask you to return, this time for a longer stay in one of our hotels. I assure you that you will have a better experience than what you have had in the past and you will fall in love with Barbados.

          Have a great day and I hope that you will return soon!

        • Anisha Hurley

          Tim, I’m truly sorry as a Barbadian, that you had that experience which can only be described as complete insanity on the part of those you encountered. However, i implore you to return. Hundreds of thousands of tourists come to our shores annually and they have a lovely time here, just look up a few places in Barbados on Trip Advisor and you will see what I mean.

          It is hard to believe that we have persons in our country who would behave like that but let me take the time to give you my most sincere apologies.

          I have just completed my degree at University in Tourism Management and I know the importance of tourism to our country. And because I am passionate about the industry, comments or reviews of our island, such as this one, greatly anger me. However, I will still stand up for my country and again ask you to return, this time for a longer stay in one of our hotels. I assure you that you will have a better experience than what you have had in the past and you will fall in love with Barbados.

          Have a great day and I hope that you will return soon!

        • Anisha Hurley

          Tim, I’m truly sorry as a Barbadian, that you had that experience which can only be described as complete insanity on the part of those you encountered. However, i implore you to return. Hundreds of thousands of tourists come to our shores annually and they have a lovely time here, just look up a few places in Barbados on Trip Advisor and you will see what I mean.

          It is hard to believe that we have persons in our country who would behave like that but let me take the time to give you my most sincere apologies.

          I have just completed my degree at University in Tourism Management and I know the importance of tourism to our country. And because I am passionate about the industry, comments or reviews of our island, such as this one, greatly anger me. However, I will still stand up for my country and again ask you to return, this time for a longer stay in one of our hotels. I assure you that you will have a better experience than what you have had in the past and you will fall in love with Barbados.

          Have a great day and I hope that you will return soon!

      • Tim

        Getting off the ship, we decided to walk to town, which is not an unreasonable thing. As we were required to walk through a large group of taxi drivers, we POLITELY declined a ride, saying “no thank you”. We were greeted to your island by several “go F**K yourself then” by several of the drivers because we declined their services with a smile.

        The town was nice. It was well kept and par for Caribbean islands.

        As we made our way back to the ship, we decided to visit the shops that are just outside the gate of the port, not those in the port, just outside. I wanted to buy a smoothie drink. All the prices on the wall were in EC, which is no big deal and is normal. I, however, did not change my USD into EC, because…. well, everyone accepts it. I asked POLITELY to make sure they take USD. The store keeper laughed at me and told me, “you are not in the U.S., you are in the f**king Caribbean, get the hell out of my store.”

        Still determined to not let those two experiences ruin our day, we went into another shop so my wife could by a souvenir. The store owner was on the phone as we entered. We smiled at her as she spoke on the phone. I sat in a chair just inside the door. It was a chair that was for shoppers, it was not on sale. 5 minutes later, as my wife is deciding between a few items, the storekeeper ends her phone call and asks me directly: “why didn’t you say hi to me when you came in?” I responded: “I smiled to you, you were on the phone.” She then proceeded to scream at us until we left her store.

        We have spent over 100 port days in the Caribbean. 2 in Barbados. Our first trip there was a paid excursion. The second we tried to experience the culture. We were very disappointed by the culture we experienced.

        If stores 100 meters from the ship will not take USD, and expect customers to interrupt their phone call to say “HELLO” (which by the way is the store’s responsibility, not the customer) they will not be in business to long.

        We realize that not every Barbados resident is rude. That is obvious. But, we encountered enough of a pattern of people that we are content not to visit the island anytime soon.

        We are not upset anymore. We were very upset at the time. Sorry for the long reply, I felt I should explain our experience.

    • Anisha Hurley

      Maybe you encountered one or two rude people, which I’m sure I would encounter if I visited your country. While I’m saddened about your experience, I’m also saddened at the fact that you would want to make others believe that Barbadians are a set of rude people. I truly hope that you will come again and try to experience more of the island and get a better understanding of the lovely,warm and friendly people we have here.

      Furthermore, let it be known that while Barbados’ tourism numbers may have declined in comparison to its neighbours, the revenue earned has been considerably higher. So while the numbers may not be there, the dollars certainly are and this was purposely done by the tourism authority of Barbados. It makes little sense having vast numbers who are not spending when you can have less spending a lot.

  • Tobias Bajanman

    Wow, I was becoming so caught up with the representation given to our country by this graduate (Hurley), I almost forgot my reason for scrolling to the comments section of this “what” of an article by Mr. Hoyos.. In fairness to him however, let me admit that I am unaware of his assignment here which may very well be to simply give us the stats on Tourism. I continued to read the article hoping that it would have pointed to a few reasons why our numbers are not looking good. This never happened.
    I will therefore attempt to throw out a few questions in the hope that, if considered, we may get some idea as to what some of our adjustments may need to be if significant improvement is still our expectation.
    How does the pricing structure of those countries compared, differ from that of Barbados? What is the tourist finding so appealing in these countries? Might it be the naturalness of them; the uniqueness of culture (as different from where the Tourist came from); How does the hotel rates compare to ours here since one would imagine that the lower the fare and rates, the more economical it would be for the visitor who we continue to mistakenly believe that they have all the money in the world. Where is the appeal of these states coming from and how much different are they from NY City and the main cities of the world? In a word then, is the Visitor getting a better and more unique experience when they visit these other territories than here in Barbados?
    I had the opportunity to go through the Caribbean recently and it is my experience that in many of them the visitor is serve foods of these countries; drinks, tour areas of the country beautiful in their naturalness and by far different from where the visitors live. It was a refreshing experience. I did not say that there wasn’t any international dishes because they were but, the local food was right in front of them and many of them loved it. On my way back, taxi fares at the airport are murderous; a rum and coke cost more than the chair being sat on; a meal could run you up $50.00/$60.00 for just two people. Baxters road, Oistins and Spegletown (Speightstown) are all very expensive and we think this is alright because the tourist has some money to spend. Let me throw this out: why was there a boom in Cruise travel? Because it offered a fixed price that travellers could save up for and once paid, there is very little more needed and even those things that they would ordinarily buy from outside (gifts and so on), these ships are now carrying them at much reduced prices to help the tourist. The implication here should be clear to those who want to take a realistic look at tourism and how we can garner for ourselves a better piece of the pie.
    It is time to put the emphasis on the visitor and reduce that of the executive! .